More than 660 students graduated from Danbury High School in 97 degree weather Wednesday, and 5,000 parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles cheered them on.
The seniors were given tons of good advice during their last official act at Danbury High School.
"We have succeeded. We have passed the final test," said Allison Murphy, a graduate who was the first to speak to the class sitting on the track in blue and white gowns. "As Confucius said, 'Whatever you do, do it with all your heart.'"
"Democracy is real," said Danbury Mayor Mark Bougton, who refers to himself as Big Poppa on Twitter, an account Danbury High School students follow for any word of a snow day, power outtage or other way to avoid school. "You gained the skills to get a fair shake. Use your extraordinary skills to help your community, your state and your country."
Alexander Coco, the class Valedictorian, gave his fellow graduates six rules to live by, and they were pretty good.
1) Trust people. He urged the graduates to learn who they are, build a team to work with and trust your friends. 2) Don't listen to pessimists, so have a, "Yes I can attitude." 3) Don't be afraid to fail. Everybody fails, but the people who succeed are the people who failed, but then got up and kept going. 4) Break the rules, not the laws. 5) "Work like hell," because you must be driven, focused and you must not quit until you are happy. 6) Give back.
He thanked his parents for their guidance and love.
"Fight on and God Bless," Coco said.
Allison Vas, another graduate spoke about how they changed and how each year was different. As freshmen, they worried. As sophomores, at least they weren't freshmen. As juniors they worked harder and college loomed on the horizon. As seniors, they hit all the milestones, (prom, skip day, barbecue) but it was different then they imagined. Now they're going off into a place where they will again be uncertain.
"We're about to start a new chapter in our lives," Vas said. "We should be proud of ourselves."
Bennett Cognato, a senior, made reference to Principal Gary Bocaccio, who served one year so far, but based on the praise heaped on him during graduation, he is a keeper.
Superintendent of Schools Sal Pascarella said he'd like to clone Bocaccio.
Cognato said Danbury High School goes through principals like Hogwarts goes through Defense against the Dark Arts teachers, nearly one a year. Cognato said Principal Bocaccio was available to the students, and on some days, he'd stop into classes to say hello.
Bocaccio said the class of 2012 was remarkable, in part because it won numerous academic and sports awards, and also because its members raise so much money for good causes. In one case, the school raised $200,000 to buy six vans for returning wounded war veterans.
"God bless you, I love you class of 2012," Bocaccio said.